To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Friday, January 19, 2007

I Wouldn't Change My Vote on a Life and Death Issue for a Taco

But apparently 96 U.S. Senators would, which is why they passed legislation last night banning Senators from accepting gifts, food, and travel paid for by lobbyists. I can see banning lobbyists from giving a member of Congress and his family a free trip to Jamaica. But prohibiting him from taking the member out to dinner? That's absurd.

Not surprisingly the bill contains all sorts of loopholes for special interest groups:
Lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, also talked to lawmakers about excluding from the measure's travel ban trips to Israel sponsored by the group's nonprofit foundation affiliate. The legislation, as written, would allow those trips to continue.
And, of course, like most ethics and campaign finance legislation that have come before it, it will make matters worse:
In addition, lobbyists' organizations worked against many parts of the Senate bill, arguing that lobbyists would still be able to spend lavishly on lawmakers under its provisions. They would just have to do so in the context of political fundraisers because fundraising activities are not addressed in the bill.

"The bill has gone from bad to worse," said Paul A. Miller, immediate past president of the American League of Lobbyists. "What's being proposed now puts us in danger of making the system even more corrupt than it is now, largely because the bill would move a lot of lobbying contacts into the realm of campaign finance, and that's more corrupting than under the current system."